Liberal Hero Aung San Suu Kyi ‘Jailing More Dissidents Than Predecessors’

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By Kieran Corcoran | 7:24 am, January 9, 2017

Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar and an erstwhile liberal hero, has come under fire from free speech groups for continuing to stifle dissent in her country.

Suu Kyi took power in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) last year after spending much of her life as a political prisoner of the nation’s military junta.

The politician, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, sparked hopes of a new era in the South-east Asian state when she and her party took power in the first open elections in decades.

One of her first acts was to promise to free many of the estimated 500 political prisoners incarcerated for opposing the previous government.

Myanmar’s constitution bans Suu Kyi from holding the office of president of the country, but is nonetheless its de facto leader.

She was invited to Washington, D.C., last September and President Obama praised the “progress” in her country.

However, less than a year later it has emerged that the new regime has actually increased its use of some oppressive laws, particularly one related to the internet.

PEN Myanmar has counted 38 prosecutions launched for “online defamation” since Suu Kyi’s ascent in April.

One of the dissidents was jailed on Friday for insulting the nation’s military commander, according to a report in the Guardian.

The current rate – around four prosecutions a month – dwarfs the total of seven cases PEN says the junta launched between 2013 and 2015.

The criticism is another sign that Suu Kyi’s regime is struggling to live up to the hopes of its international supporters.

Last year the government was accused of turning a blind eye to ethnic cleansing of a minority group of Muslims, the Rohingya, allegedly being carried out by the army in the West of the country.

Suu Kyi has defended the army – which she does not directly control – by saying they are operating within the “rule of law”.